"It's all your fault!"
"Leave it alone Josh"
"I said leave it."
"No he's right, it is my fault"
"Don't go all angsty on us now Jay.."
I could hear voices. Voices which belonged to people around me..
"Oh, wait! He's moving!"
"Oh crap! Call the nurse!"
"It's okay, Josh, we can handle this.."
"I'm not sure I can.."
Faces. Blurred. Sharpening. What's that pain in my leg?
"Oh Jeez, he's okay..." the voice comes from somewhere to my left
"Welcome back to the land of living"someone sitting on my right
I don't care though. The first thing I see is a short-haired blond with disproportionately-sized purple bangs. Fine face. Red circles around blue eyes. Crying? Lack of sleep?
Wait a minute! Who..
A crash. No more blonde. The two speakers bend over me. One tall footballer-type, big shoulders, short hair, a bemused look on his face. One short guy, no shoulders, emo hair, pretty fucked-up expression on his face.
Oh yeah, I am Charles, right.
"What.. what am I doing in..?" His voice breaks off
Panic! At the Disco-dude reacts fast. Still no sign of blondie.
"Hey, hey Charles, it's okay, you're in hospital, you've had an accident but you're okay now"He smiles up at the footballer "We thought you had lost your memory there, but looks like that's just a side effect, you'll be okay." How many "okays" does that make?
What's your name? Metis. Metis. May. And you? Josh. And...."Jay" blondie appears grabbing at the bedstead, then emerges a face. Blushing.
"You remember.." Metis begins.
But I don't hear what he says next. Jay, how is it I only remember you? It's only your name , but that means so much right now. Your eyes tell me you understand.
"Strange name for a girl..." The spell is broken. Blondie gets up, both hands clutching the bedstead, hair hiding face..No breasts. Okay.
"Seems fine to me, same old Charles" Josh chuckles. Jay looks up. He looks hurt, but I feel as though I used to say this sort of thing before, and on purpose.
"Jay, I'm sorry"
"It's fine, you have every right to..." Metis interrupts. You really don't remember what happened before you got here?
I'm about to answer when the nurse rush in, followed by a flustered-looking doctor. Before I know it, I am surrounded, and the three boys are ushered out of the room.
No, I don't remember anything. Nothing at all.
8:13 alarm clock rings in May's room, he doesn't get up. Josh has been doing press-ups since six forty-five. Jay hasn't slept a wink.
9:00 May still not up. Josh driving to pick him up. Jay listens to his sister rambling at breakfast table
9:13 May still sleeping like a puppy. Not for long, though. Josh is creeping up the stairs. Josh is on the bus, Mp3 plugged in but not listening to the music.
9:20 Josh has ejected May from his bed to find that he is not wearing any pyjamas. Not good. Jay arrives at school, where everyone is rushing around him glad to know Charles has awoken.
9:30 row-call. Guess who's missing. Jay is asked if he's to see Charles again today, if he does can he give him this? And this?WTF oranges? Best I could come up with...Tell him I can't come coz of homework.
10:00Metis calls Jay *%*ùhnrkgheysuigfiu Josh and gzjhegf$*$op^fucking hurts l*^pyukly^pk can't see Charles in this state, do you mind going on your own? No way of of it now..
11:00 Josh arrives looking radiant. He hasn't missed any classes. May is currently missing his third. Jay has disappeared.
15:00 Josh at football practise. Pissed off coz Metis won't answer the phone. Jay's on the bus to visit Charles at the clinic.
"Jay." He looks a bit uneasy. He's wearing dark trousers, a white shirt beneath a grey hoody. Why are you afraid? What are you afraid of??
"Sorry the others couldn't come"
"That's all right"
"I mean they were busy, but everyone's happy you're okay, I mean Erik.."
"Ah" Right. Why didn't I just let him talk, at least he doesn't look as terrified as when he is silent.
"So , you really don't remember anything?"
"Yeah, the only thing I remember is..um..your name..and uh..;well..you"
"I'm sure you remember other stuff"
"No really, I can't, I've tried but..."
"Seriously, Charles, nothing? We weren't even that close, I mean , well, yeah."
"Who was I close to then? Why don't you sit down?...Please."
You rush to the chair I am indicating, and you look at my leg.
"Does it hurt?"Change of subject? Fine.
"Um, no not really.."
"When do they say you can walk again?"
"Apparently it's not as bad as it looks, so they reckon it should only take a couple of weeks" I'm more concerned about my memory going on the blink though
"So what did you get up to today?"
"Doctors, nurses, doctors, more doctors, and oh more nurses..."
"Would you like us to bring you stuff to stop you getting bored?"Us?
"I'd like that." A smile THANK GOD. The kid is human. Okay its a nervous smile, but it's the best thing I've seen all day.
"I'd better be off then"
"Oh, so soon?"
"I'll come back tomorrow with the others." Pause. Silence. Then your face lights up.
"I know, we could bring some stuff which could remind you of your past.."
"Pictures, objects, I dunno, toys??"
"Sure, I mean if you think it'll work" Anything to keep that smile on your face
"Right, then, see you tomorrow"
Why the hesitation, was it something I said? Right, let's start reading those get well cards.
8:13 Alarm. Metis is up and waiting for Josh' car, he won't get caught sleeping in again. Josh is in the shower. Jay is dialling May's number.
8:30 Josh is waiting outside May's house. Metis, pressed by Jay's phone call, is rummaging in his room upstairs and trying to figure out how to convince Josh to miss football practice so he can drive him to Charles' house to get more personal things. Jay, daydreaming on the bus, misses his stop.
10:00 May and an exasperated Josh drive into the school car park. Jay's phone goes off in History
12:00 Lunch. Jay, despite the fact he got detention because of Metis' call, eagerly asks him if he found what he asked for. Josh still annoyed because May ignores him and still hasn't apologised for making him miss practice, stands and listens.
15:00 Josh drops them off at the clinic. He still doesn't complain, because of what happened at May's yesterday.
"This was not my idea, so don't blame me if it doesn't work.."
"Hey Jay, hey.."
"May. May. Metis. You doing it on purpose?" I used to hang around with this guy?
"Hi, Charles"Jay says
They place photos, objects, books, and other unnameable things on the table in front of me. Jay sits facing me, pulling one of his bangs behind his ear. I mean, come ON, how could you not mistake him for a girl? The memory of his face comes back to haunt me. I realised I used to insult Jay often, which I am not proud of.
"Take your time" Metis sits next to Jay. He doesn't take the hair out of his face.
It doesn't work. Come on, please let me remember something, anything. No, I just can't. Metis was right. This is me in these photos. Some of the book titles ring a bell, but I could as well have glimpsed it on a bookshelf for all I remember of the content. Metis rises.
"I told you Jay." He drags him out of the room. They think I can't hear them, but I read faces, it's all I am able to do now most of my memory's gone.
Jay: IT will work
Metis: no Jay, it won't, just let the doctors do their thing, and he might recover .
Jay: but you're his friend
Metis : I know, and there's only so much a friend can do
Then, unexpectedly, he puts a hand on Jay's shoulder
Metis:I know how much this means to you
He comes back into the room "Look, Charles, I gotta go, but don't panic, we'll get your memory back, I promise." He smiles and leaves, casting an impatient look at Jay, who's shrunk into a corner.
He's wearing a striped shirt which must be two sizes too big. He's drowning in it. There's something you're not telling me...What were we like before I ended up in hospital? Before you started wearing floating clothes? You've lost weight, but for me to realise that I must have a memory of you wearing something that actually fits...and I have. Yes Jay, all I have is memories of you. Slowly they invade my psyche. I know that blush. That shirt you were wearing when you blushed after I said something hurtful. Why you? There is not one picture of us together. In fact, it seems I'm closer to Metis. I don't know him though. Surely if we had been that close I should be able to remember what we shared, something more than just physical images of Jay.
What's that you're mumbling?
"Have you been eating properly, Jay?"
"Lay off me!" Okaay, bad move. Was there a hint of an "you too" at the end of that sentence?
I expect you you to storm out of the room, instead you stride to the table, slam a book down on it "Read this", and a CD player "Listen to this". Then you storm put of the room.
8:13 Alarm. Metis isn't up. The hell with it. Except that Josh has decided to take the bus today. Jay realises his survivor's instinct won't let him drown in the shower.
10:00 Metis arrives at school frustrated because Josh "forgot" to mention he wouldn't be picking him up today. Josh is hiding from May. Jay is trying not to bust the microscope lens under Sarah's killer gaze.
12:00 May and Josh have a massive row in the middle of the cafeteria. Food fight. fight. YAY! Long time since we had one of those. Again Jay has disappeared.
15:00 Jay is going to the clinic. Alone. Again. May and Josh are in detention.
"Oh Jay, about yesterday.."
"It's fine, enjoy your reading?"
"Oh yeah, It's really good. Did I used to read this sort of stuff then?"
"Not officially. Zarathustrawas your favourite, Metis told me."
"Oh, I don't read that kinda stuff."
"Uhm..Yeah, I brought a film, I thought we could watch it and see if it rings any bells. But if you'd rather finish reading."
"Okay, sure, could you pass me my crutch please"
You seem more relaxed now. You still act like a criminal and stare at me like a terrified five year old every time I ask you something. Well, it's a start I suppose. Have you slept at all? I don't remember those shadows under your eyes. The ones crowding your face rival those of the boy in the pictures, Sam was it?
Now we're watching the film, and you're sitting beside me, trying to hide the fact this is boring you. Little kids play around us, we don't have TVs in the rooms. You fall asleep, curled up in a ball, head between your arms. It's almost as if you're crying. One of the kids is deceived and pokes you. You jump up and look at me, terrified. The kid giggles. You look at her and smile. The film goes on unwatched. Feeling my gaze, you turn back at me.
"Is the film finished?"
To be frank, I don't give a damn about the film.
"Not my thing, really..." Is this going to be a bad move again?
"Really?" Huh? A smile?
"No, no, that's great, you used to hate it before...before.." You're slipping, don't drown again, please.
Eventually you dare look me in the eye.
"I better go."
"So soon?" What's with the quizzical look? Hang on, do I see..hope?
You stand. "I'll come back tomorrow"
8:13 Alarm. Metis has changed the setting so the damn thing can actually wake him up. Josh has realised he has a major, I mean major test this morning. Well, better late than never? Jay's sister is tormenting him about his hair, AGAIN. Completely out of context.
9:30 Metis arrives at school in time for his first lesson! The first time this week! Well done! Josh wishes he weren't in time for his test.
11:00 May can't find his hopeless boyfriend. Josh can't find his freakish boyfriend. Jay is hearing but not listening to what people are discussing.
12:00 May asks Jay to visit Charles since he has to help hopeless boyfriend with essay.
15:00 Jay feel alone. Very alone.
"I brought you muffins"
"Yeah, well, three for two, you know..."
It's just struck me, why are you wearing a jumper in the middle of May? Who wears jumpers at springtime? What are you hiding? What the hell, you're smiling, which is an overall achievement.
"Right, there's blueberry, chocolate, and uh, blueberry again" You sit in front of me, your bony wrists stick out as you place each muffin in a row on the table. I take one of the blueberry muffins, so you can choose between the two others. You tell me about other people's crazy love lives, how the mad English teacher told Sam off for sleeping in her class, how Sarah and Erik almost blew up the lab because they disagreed on which chemicals to use. All these people I do not know, or maybe once knew but don't remember a thing about. You eat half your muffin, then leave the room. I forgot to give one of the kids who thought I looked lonely her cuddly toy back, so I take it back to her. On my way back I pass in front of the bathroom.
I can't see you directly but from where I'm standing I see your wretched body perched over the lavatory seat. At each spasm your shoulders are go up as the whole upper part of your body is thrust forwards. One of your shoulders is sticking out of the jumper. I can imagine your fleshless ribs moving up and down as you retch into the bowl. However what strikes me the most are the sobs I hear at regular intervals before you're body is wrenched forward again. Soon there's nothing left to through up, I'm ready to bet there was nothing much to begin with. And your head falls between your arms as you let the tears come.
It's too much for me and I rush into the bathroom. You turn around a look of horror on your face. I grab your wrist, surprised but not really at how easy it is to pull you from the floor with a broken leg. You wince as I demand an explanation. You've stopped crying. You eyes look at me as though I were about to murder you. But the murderer here isn't me Jay. You make yourself throw up. You make yourself believe I'd hurt you. What the hell has got into you?
You look pathetically down at your feet. Gently, you release yourself of my grasp and walk out of the room. I stand there for an eternity. Eventually I pull the chain and go out.
6:13 Metis has awoken. He's going to surprise Josh by turning up on his doorstep before he leaves for school. Josh just loves having a boyfriend who's brilliant in English. Jay does get up.
7:13 Metis meets Josh at his house. They make out in the car. They'll be late, so what? Jay forces himself out of bed.
10:00 Biology class. Sarah sees Jay's face and decides against persecuting him this time, even if the way he handles that test tube represents a genuine health hazard. Josh has forgotten his essay. May is exasperated.
12:00 Odette and Erik are relieved to see Jay sit down with them for lunch and talk "normally". Still doesn't eat anything though.
15:00 Josh and May have detention again since Josh insulted the English teacher who insulted him back who was then insulted by May who does not begin to understand why he stood up for that useless Jock of his . Which means that Jay is on his own.
"I thought you wouldn't come"
You shrug. Say something. Anything.
"Look, I'm sorry you had to see that yesterday."
"It's fine" But is it? Awkward silence "I won't tell."
You shrug again. You bite your lip.
"I feel really bad about.."
"Well you should. Let's not talk about it."
"It's not what you think."
"I don't care if you're a drama queen with a thing for baggy clothes and impeccable figures and an allergy for solids, just let's not go one about it."
You look away and walk to the window.
"It's not what you think" You say again
"I don't care"
"I've disappointed you"
"Watching someone you care for because they're the only person you remember disappear is pretty disappointing, yes."
You wince when I say "care for"
"God, Jay, what is wrong with you?"
"I thought you didn't want to discuss it."
"I mean what is wrong between us? What was wrong? What happened?"
"I can't tell you"
"Because what...?, oh for Christ's sake! Give me my crutch."
You don't move "Just give it to me. I want to get up!"
After handing it to me you immediately retreat to the window. I follow. We stand there, you looking into space, I watching you. Your shoulders go up and down as you breathe. Your hair goes down to the nape of your neck, curling slightly at the ends. I reach out for the place between the neck and shoulder, but you automatically shrug my hand off. I place myself in front of the window, you turn from the window to look at me.
"Why won't you tell me?"
"Because it would spoil everything."
I don't know how it happens, just that it does ever so naturally. Our lips join as though they were always meant to. I am kissing you, and it seems the most normal thing in the world. neither of us has forced the other. Somehow we end up on the bed, kissing as though it were a new form of breathing. But then you push me away.
"No, no I can't."
"Not like this, not without you knowing."
"I couldn't care less."
"I don't want you to think later that I took advantage of you."
"Just do it."
"No, I'm serious Charles, I.." You clasp a hand over your mouth, eyes widening, face creasing under the pressure of fresh tears, and you rush out.
I go to the bathroom. I know you've gone to throw up. I know it's not my fault, you just can't help it now, can you? I stand helpless as you offer down your guts to the bowl . I kneel down next to you and slowly rub your back. You're surprised at first, but you don't push me away. The hurling and sobbing slows down. You don't look at me when you wipe your mouth, tears won't stop falling down your cheeks. My hand stays where it is. You let yourself fall into my arms. I feel your ribs move up and down as you cry into my shoulder.
"He's shy" I don't think so, Metis, not that I've noticed, but you're not suppose to know about that.
"Why don't you just tell me what happened?"
"You still want to know, after what you've seen?"
"I need to know what got him into that state."
"Just ask him."
"I've tried that, haven't you been listening?"
Metis looks away, confused.
What's with all the secrecy, what really happened?
"All I can say is that you and Jay were talking outside, and next thing everyone knows you're lying under a car..." Everyone?
"And everyone thinks Jay..."
"I'm just telling you what I saw.."
"Yeah, but you're implying.."
"I'm not implying anything. Look, Charles, I didn't want to tell you because I didn't want you getting the wrong idea without the whole truth."
Saturday morning. I can't stop thinking about yesterday. I know Jay won't want to see me again. God I needs to see him. And hold him. It's intoxicating.
I also know that if I ask Jay to tell me the truth about my accident it might destroy what we have going on between us, which frankly isn't much at all. But I still want to know.
At lunchtime May comes to visit , and let's slip that Jay's outside talking to Josh who is supervising the car so he doesn't get a ticket. I don't enquire further. I understand but it still hurts.
And then, by some unforeseen circumstance I'm allowed to go outside in the park. And guess who's standing on a small knoll, leaning against the trunk of a tree?
"Jay" Metis retreats somewhere near the fish-pond with Josh.
"Hey Charles" You help me get my balance against the tree. You seem resigned, shoulders back, hands in pockets, the wind disturbing your bangs.
"I need to know"
You hang your head "Suppose so.."
Set the scene. It's dark, people are still inside the school building. We're outside. Jay's smoking.
"Why don't you quit?"
"I try Charles."
Jay doesn't cringe at each question any more. He's fed up. So is Charles. We're both frustrated because we can't express our feelings for each other, and we just completely messed up a History test. We're hopeless.
"Look, Charles, I know I'm a poser, a smoker and I look like a fag and my hair looks stupid. Just leave me alone, and go home."
We glare at each other. Charles rolls his eyes and Jay takes a drag at his cigarette. Communication breakdown.
"Fine, if you won't go home, I will."
"Jay.." He drops his fag and walks off
"Just go..; go back with the others."
As Jay crosses the road he hears Charles calling him. Jay feels a push and turns to give Charles a piece of his mind once and for all. But there is no Charles. There's a car, people rushing out of the school, a lot of people.
"It was my fault"
"I don't want you to forgive me. I don't deserve it. I don't deserve pity either..."
"Don't say that."
"Oh but I do say it , because it's true, Charles. You've no idea how much I really , I mean really really hate what I have become."
"Um, I've picked up on that actually, Jay but..."
" I see people looking, you know? They look at me and they despise me because I made you pay for my own selfishness."
"And so to compensate you've decided to starve yourself to oblivion..."
You look up. I notice how hollow your cheeks are in the light of the setting sun. "That's what I thought at the time. But then I thought, hey he won't remember so he won't despise me or anything, so it's okay. okay...."
"If I said I forgave you.."
"But there was and are still the other people's looks, And..I can't, I couldn't stop.."
"Don't you want to get better? "
"I hate hospitals, the only reason I came here was for you.."
"I never said you had to go to hospital"
You look away. I sigh. "You're hopeless.;"
"I know.." I sit down next to you. You put your head on my shoulder.
"I'm not going to let you disappear Jay, I need you too much.."
You laugh softly
"Looks like I have no choice.."